Alec's speech therapy and special education services continued through the month of February. We are on a routine schedule now, with speech coming Monday and Tuesday at 9am, and the special ed teacher coming on Thursday at 9:45 and Friday at 9am.
What that means is that I get up, tend to Alec, get the girls' breakfasts made, get lunches packed, yell, "Go brush your teeth!" and "No, you CANNOT wear short sleeves- it's February!!" a few dozen times, do their hair, get their jackets on, push them out the door at 8:50 and then have 10 minutes to throw some clothes on and brush my hair before a therapist is at my door.
And sometimes, Alec cries as soon as he hears that doorbell ring.
And then I feel bad that he's not happy that they are coming. Because I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to try and make it all perfect: that he is ready to work/learn/play, that the house is picked up from breakfast and the night before, that they have a clean, comfortable place to play together, and that his diaper isn't full of some kind of foul smelling substance.
I want him to be a "good" boy, one that welcomes them and performs well. I don't want him having meltdowns or tantrums or being stubborn or resisting their efforts to help him. I am trying to manage myself, him, the house, and the whole process so it is as successful as possible.
This is my pressure and I try to own it and not have it make me crazy. But it did, and made me feel overwhelmed and very close to crying a lot of the time.
I have talked to many women who work as in-home speech therapists and occupational therapists and they all say the same thing: don't worry about it. In-home therapists have seen it all. Some people's houses are really, really gross. That's okay. It's not important.
But it's important to me, and I think I see it as a way of proving to the therapists that I'm not a crappy mom who can't get her kid to talk. Or is disinterested. I want them to think, "Gee, she seems to have it all together. It's just a mystery to me why her son is having this speech issue." I don't want them to think, "Geesh! No wonder her kid's all messed up. Have you seen her house??? Clearly this speech issue is just an extension of the chaos that's going on in there..." And as I type it, I realize how ridiculous this sounds (because reality lies somewhere in between, doesn't it?), but you try having people come into your own house four days a week to "fix" your child and see how you process it. It's overwhelming. And anxiety-provoking.
Now, the good news is that Alec is making great gains. He is using more words, better pronunciation, engaging more with the therapists and is less dependent on me to be right next to him during the session, and using all the sign language that we have taught him. And those are all huge steps forward.
And the therapists could not be nicer, more caring, more engaging, more focused on helping Alec, and more pleasant to talk with. Could not be better. They both have three kids at home and I feel like they are in the trenches of parenting just like I am. They are MOMS. They totally get it.
So the four weeks of February was full of therapy for Alec. And full of me trying to process how I felt about it. I realized about two weeks into February that I had just vastly underestimated how the therapy was going to affect me as a person, as a person who loves Alec, and as a mom who wants the best for her children and puts in a lot of effort to do a good job raising children. And I was hoping that with that realization, I would feel my anxiety about the whole thing go down, but it didn't. I was hoping I could let some of this stuff go, but I couldn't. It wasn't time. I was still processing.
The therapy was the dominant force in my life this month. It was like having company every morning. Gone were our lazy lay-around-the-house-in-our-jammies mornings. Gone was our freedom to go somewhere for the whole morning.
I was talking with a very insightful friend about it and he pointed out how the therapy, while a blessing, changed the rhythm as a stay at home mom that I had enjoyed for 6 years and suddenly I had to be ON four mornings a week. At 9am, no less. And I think his point is a huge one. Though after re-reading this last paragraph, I'm not sure I could sound more spoiled.
This therapy is a blessing, a gift we have been given, and as I type this, Alec is sitting at the table, drawing and babbling on to himself. This is something to celebrate. All this internal garbage I am dealing with is so secondary it is not even funny.
But it almost killed me this month.